Bimbola Oyesola and Merit Ibe
Ahead the Federal Government’s plan to reopen the nation’s land borders, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has advised it to among other strategies diplomatically engage Niger and Benin Republics on trade data sharing for an enhanced performance when the ban is lifted.
The Association also recommended that the Federal Government should establish joint border patrols with neighboring countries involving police, customs, immigration, navy and state security services of the countries. It also urged the Nigerian authorities to invest in new technology to improve accountability, transparency and enhance efficiency in the operations of customs services.
President of the Association, Mansur Ahmed, who disclosed its position, commended the Federal Government on the various initiatives and policies, especially the economic sustainability plan introduced in a bid to ensure that the nation’s economy recovers swiftly from the global economic distress aggravated by COVID-19 pandemic.
He emphasised that the government needs to strengthen the coordination among the regulatory agencies to ensure that they share trade information and timely review trade policies, which will go a long way.
The MAN boss reiterated that the government of Niger and Benin Republic need to be engaged on trade data sharing and ensure that containers in transit to Nigeria are not offloaded into trucks and smuggled into the country.
While noting that the border ban has already lasted one year, the flagrant disregard for international, political and economic protocols by our neighboring countries which needed to be addressed, the Association was of the view that a review of the border closure was pertinent and in line with the core objective of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) protocol which is premised on liberalisation of intra-regional trade in Africa.
Ahmed decried that since the closure, some sectors have had considerable increases in their productivity, while some sectors have recorded sharp declines.
In particular, he noted that the Export Group of the association clearly suffered huge losses due to logistics issue occasioned by the closure as it takes an average of 8 weeks for the carriers to ship and truck goods within countries in the same region vis-à-vis trucking through the land border, which takes an average of seven to 10 days.